First Kings 13 set the tone for the spiritual condition of the northern nation called Israel under the reign of King Jeroboam. Some time back we studied about a man of God coming to Jeroboam and pronouncing judgment for his sins. Jeroboam attempted to have the man of God arrested, only to have his arm wither so that he could not draw it back. Rather than listen and repent, Jeroboam begs for healing and attempts to turn this man of God into a prophet for hire. Wisely, the man of God refuses and returns back to Judah. Jeroboam lacks concern for God’s will.
Jeroboam’s Plan (14:1-6)
As chapter 14 begins we find that Jeroboam’s son, Abijah, is sick. According to verse 17 it appears that Abijah is still a child. Jeroboam tells his wife to disguise herself and go to Ahijah the prophet. Take some gifts and find out what is going to happen to the child. So Jeroboam’s wife disguises herself and goes to the prophet with these gifts. Now the scriptures tell us a funny part to this story in verse 4. The prophet has become so old that he can no longer see. So here is Jeroboam’s wife trying to disguise herself when the prophet cannot see anyway. This tells you how long it has been since Jeroboam and his family have consulted the prophet of God. It is a sad declaration on the spirituality of Jeroboam and his household.
When Jeroboam’s wife comes in, she pretends to be another woman. I wonder if she tried to disguise her voice some. We know that she made sure to look different in her appearance. Don’t forget that our prophet cannot see. Verse 6 tells us that as soon as the prophet heard her feet at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with unbearable news for you.” All of this effort to try to hide who they are is futile before God.
How often do we try to pull the same stunt before God? How often do we pretend to be someone that we are not? We live our lives in the way that we want to live but think that we can fool God into not recognizing us for who we truly are. We think that by coming to worship services that we have somehow tricked God into salvation and forgiveness when inside we are still as wicked as we ever were. Do we really think that we are going to fool God? That is what I kept thinking about as this story begins in 1 Kings. Do you really think that you are going to deceive the prophet of the Lord? Do you think that God can be tricked by your foolish stunts? This problem goes all the way back to the very beginning. After being caught in their sins, what do Adam and Eve do but attempt to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord (Genesis 3:8)! Do we really think that we hide from the Lord what we have done? Do we truly think that we are going to conceal who we truly are?
Further, consider the timing of Jeroboam’s request. Why is he seeking the word from the Lord through his prophet now? The reason is because his child is sick. He is seeking the word of the Lord only in the time of trouble. Jeroboam turns a deaf ear to the word of the Lord at all other occasions only to hope for good news from God after rejecting him. How often we also treat God the same way as Jeroboam did! We want God to be there for our emergencies but not to rule over our lives. We don’t want him to tell us what to do. But we want him there as our personal insurance policy when things go wrong. Jeroboam knows he is not going to get a good word from the Lord because he has been rejecting the Lord. That is the whole reason for send his wife and putting her in a disguise.
God knows our hearts. When the crowds were seeking after Jesus after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus made this announcement. Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (John 6:26 ESV) Jesus knew what was going on inside of them. God told Jeremiah the same thing. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9–10 ESV) God is not our personal emergency system. James tells us that it is the prayer of the righteous that is powerful and effective. God knows our hearts. God knows our motives. He sees what is inside of us. How foolish we are for thinking that we can rely on God in our times of trouble when we refuse to rely on him at any other time in our lives!
Disaster Decreed (14:7-9)
Verses 7-9 express the reason for God’s severe judgment. I think it is important for us to consider that God has a reason behind his judgment. Listen to how God describes the reason for the judgment. Verse 7 through the middle of verse 8 rehearse the grace God had shown toward Jeroboam. God says that he had exalted Jeroboam and made him the leader over Israel. When God tore the kingdom in pieces, he gave Jeroboam 10 of those tribes. God is saying that I blessed you and exalted you. I took care of you. Jeroboam was merely a servant in Solomon’s house but God made him king.
But what did Jeroboam do with God’s blessings? The middle of verse 8 through verse 9 give the answer. Jeroboam was not like King David, who was a man after God’s heart and seeking God’s will. David kept the commandments of the Lord and followed with all his heart. David did what was right in God’s eyes. But not Jeroboam. Jeroboam did none of these things. Instead, Jeroboam was been the worst in his evil ways, going after other gods. Basically, Jeroboam threw God’s goodness away. He took the blessings of God, saw them as nothing, and threw them away. Listen carefully to the words at the end of verse 9: “You have cast me behind your back.” This is why God said he was so angry. God will not come in second. God refuses to be co-pilot. He will not be second chair. God does not share. He is a jealous God. Jeroboam had turn his back to God, deciding to go his own way.
God described in this paragraph how we turn our back on God. First, we turn our back on God by not following him with all of our heart. David followed with his whole heart. That is what made him a man after God’s heart even though he stumbled and sinned. His heart was seeking after the Lord. God demands our hearts. God demands all of our being to be seeking him. Otherwise, we have thrown God behind our backs. Second, we turn our back on God when we do not keep the commands of the Lord. A proper heart will lead us to proper obedience. When I love the Lord then I will want to do what the Lord has told me to do. We will want to do what is right in God’s eyes, not our own. There are two ways to live life. Notice the collapse of the nation at the end of the book of Judges and read why the people were devastated. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). This statement is the proud banner for our country today. Everyone is doing what is right to them. God condemns such thinking. You do not get to live your life how you want to live. You do not do what is right in your eyes. To do so is to cast God behind our backs. We are to do what is pleasing in the eyes of God, not ourselves. Jeroboam had taken God’s blessings and grace and thrown it away. Therefore, listen to the judgments to come for his sins.
Sin Changes The Course of History (14:10-20)
First, everyone who belongs to the house of Jeroboam was going to be killed (14:10-13). Further, Jeroboam’s son, whom the wife was inquiring about, was also going to die. In fact, she would no longer see him alive. As soon as she entered the city, the child would die. He is the only person is Jeroboam’s house and family that would be buried. Notice the reason is because there was something found in this son that was pleasing to the Lord. Not so for the rest of the family. If a family member died in the city, the dogs were going to eat him. If the family member died in the open country, the birds were going to eat him. There was not going to be any honor for the bodies of these wicked people.
Second, the dynasty of Jeroboam would be overthrown (14:14). A new king would arise and would make sure that there was nothing left of Jeroboam’s descendants.
Third, the nation of Israel would be exiled from the land (14:15-16). God was going to rip the nation out of this good land and scatter it beyond the Euphrates River. This prophecy came to pass in 722 BC when the nation of Assyria came and conquered Israel, taking the people captive, and scattering them across their empire.
We need to learn a very valuable lesson. Sin changes the course of history. One person’s sins can significantly change the course of life events. Jeroboam’s rebellion led to the death of his children, the loss of his rule, the ending of his dynasty, and set the course of events so that the nation would be conquered and scattered. Our sins bear a dramatic impact on ourselves, our family, our brethren, on people we do not even know, and people in the future who are not alive yet. Your sins set the course of this local church. Following the Lord with all your heart or not determines everything for your children, your family, your future, and this congregation. How can we not see this in our own lives and in the lives of others? Families are ripped apart by sin. Devastation occurs because of sins. Churches are destroyed by various sins. We only hold together when we are passionately pursuing Jesus. Only when we love him and seek to be pleasing to him do we have any chances of life holding together in this world. Your disobedience has a lasting impact. Look at the impact that Jeroboam had. Turn to 2 Kings 15 and read verses 18, 24, and 28. Hundreds of years later the sins of Jeroboam are still wrecking lives and causing havoc on the people and the nation. Sin is the gift that never stops giving. The penalty reaches for many generations after us.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6–7 ESV)
Sometimes we live life like a masquerade. Everyone is wearing fancy costumes concealing who they really are. But we cannot stay in our disguise forever. The clock will strike midnight and we will be seen as the pumpkins and rats that we truly are. God knows who we are and one day, on the day of judgment, everything will be disclose. The truth of who we are will be revealed. We are not fooling God. God knows our hearts. God knows whether we are living life according to what is right in our own eyes or by what is pleasing to God. Do not throw away God’s goodness and blessings. Do not destroy your life and soul by living a life of sin. Seek the Lord today before the wrath of God is revealed against us for our sins.